We started our journey from Southampton and sailed to Tangier, Tunis, Malaga and Lisbon at a cost of £45.
I was in “Hawkins” dormitory and we were supposed to keep it tidy throughout the trip. Daily inspections took place and we were awarded marks…….I notice that our dorm got 604 out of 720. We slept in hammock beds which were held up with chains, which were very easy to dismantle; so it was not unusual to go down to your dorm and find that your bed was missing!!
Our first port of call was Tangier, where I bartered for a set of bongos (which I still have), made from rather smelly camel skin. We were struck by the poverty and primitiveness of the place…….little children were begging for money and we saw snake charmers and water carriers in the streets. Some of us had a ride on a camel. People lived in mud dwellings where they produced local craftware to sell. We must have looked an odd sight, as we were all in our school summer dresses and straw boaters!
After a day in Tangier we set sail once more for Tunis. I remember the sea was quite choppy and friends kept disappearing to hang over the side of the ship! We arrived in Tunis and it was very hot so we all headed to the beach for a swim. As soon as we entered the water, a crowd of young Tunisian men stripped off and followed us in. I remember the police arriving and getting them out. The rest of our bathe was under police protection! We visited the ruins at Carthage after that, where I took several photos.
Back on board, we were entertained with deck games, films, the odd lesson on the next currency we would be encountering and snippets of foreign language.
There was a room with a juke box where we socialised with other schools and danced to the “Hippy Hippy Shake”
Our next stop was Malaga, where we boarded a rickety old bus and set off for Granada. It was quite a hairy drive, as I recall, but once there,we marvelled at the splendour of the palace, orange groves and magnificent gardens and water features. On the way back down the mountain we saw another bus that had gone over the edge since our visit up. I think we all spent the rest of the journey with our eyes closed!
The last port of call was Lisbon, where we were taken round the city in a more modern coach. I remember being very impressed by Prince Henry the Navigator’s Monument, which was huge and only 4yrs. old. I still have the information leaflet about our tour of Lisbon.
Wherever we went we seemed to attract attention, mainly because of our dreadful school uniform which we had to wear in case we got lost.
We must have looked like beings from another planet to the locals………how young and naive we were!
Our cruise ended where it started, in Southampton. We’d had a wonderful time and made many new frienships and seen sights we could not imagine. Our anxious parents waited at the dockside for our safe return………this being the first time that most of us had been away from home!
Ruth Ritchie (nee Lodge) aged nearly 15yrs. at the time!!